Doerte Welti


The great prince


If you have not heard of Karl Wendlinger, please rest assured that is quite typical. The Austrian Racing Driver began his career over 30 years ago, proving exceptionally talented. And exceptionally silent. He never made a big fuss about himself.  That is really too bad. May we introduce: Karl Wendlinger. A modern driver and gentleman.

Flashback. Amused chuckling from my male colleagues: «You want to interview Karl Wendlinger? Good luck.» What the gentlemen of the press were trying to tell me almost 30 years ago in their own covert way was that trying to interview the promising pilot was like trying to get blood out of a stone. A difficult case. However, I ventured out on my long journey at the time in November 1989 to meet Karl Wendlinger in Macao, where he was taking part in a Formula 3 Championship, a city circuit, of which Niki Lauda, fellow countryman of my interview partner, had once said it was comparable to «navigating a submarine in a bathtub». Karl drove at that time for the RSM Marko Team (backed by Dr. Helmut Marko, who today advises the Red Bull Formula 1 Team and is responsible for driver training) with a Formula 3 racing car sporting an Alfa Romeo engine. Other famous names from the motorsport future were present in the starting field: Mika Häkkinen, Alessandro Zanardi, Gianni Morbidelli, Bertrand Gachot, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Michael Schumacher. No one, including Karl, managed to complete the race in the narrow streets of the Portuguese enclave. Wendlinger still became German Champion of the Formula 3 that season thanks to his previous excellent results. Wendlinger. Not Frentzen, who was 2nd. And not Schumacher, who came 3rd.


The interview was to become one of the most impressive of my entire journalistic career. I met a thoroughly relaxed 21 year-old, who was completely cool about the hype surrounding him. Blood out of a stone? You just had to ask the right questions. The sportsman entitled «Crown Prince Karl» and the «new Lauda» (for the chroniclers: Niki Lauda is an Austrian motorsport racer, three times F1 World Champion, ending his active driving career in 1985. He owns 10 percent of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team. The soon to be 70 year-old is currently recovering from a lung transplantation, necessary due to the long-term effects of his horrific crash in 1976 on the Nürburgring, in which he almost burned to death in his car and inhaled masses of toxic vapours) talked willingly of his childhood, his life, his worlds, his dreams. Of how his mother, Traudi, knew at the latest from when «the four year old boy crashed against the garage door on his first motorbike and flew through the pane» that he was unstoppable. His parents had a garage at the time, father Karl Senior was a racing driver himself for 20 years; like father like son. At the age of 15 Karl Junior got his first kart, drove in the POP junior class, became the South German Kart Junior Champion in 1984 and in 1986 Austrian vice Champion. A talent that did not go unnoticed to the Austrian Dr. Marko, who had previously taken part in Formula 1 and had a hotel in Graz. In conjunction with Formula 1 pilot Gerhard Berger, also Austrian, who provided his young friend with tips, he helped to accelerate Karl’s career.


The development programme included a test contract with the Mercedes L-Team, as it was called at the time; three young talented pilots were teamed up with three old hands in the World Sportscar Championship Group C by the Swiss motor sport specialist, Peter Sauber. Karl‘s colleagues: Fritz Kreuzpointner and Michael Schumacher. The «teacher»: motorsport legend Jochen Mass. From this point on his career progressed rapidly, the experiment in Group C was successful, Wendlinger even won a World Sportscar Championship race in Spa in 1990. The quiet guy attracted attention, the following year he won again and prepared for the Formula 1; by the end of the season in 1991 he had driven in his debut for the Leyton House Team at the Grand Prix in Japan.


Cut. Late summer 2018. It somehow should not be taken for granted that Karl Wendlinger is standing in front of me in Arosa at the Arosa Classic Car Event. In 1994 he had a serious accident when training for the Formula 1 race in Monaco. On a racing weekend that proved from the outset anything but par for the course. The Friday before at the F1 Racing weekend in Imola, the Brazilian Rubens Barricello had a huge accident from which he miraculously survived with only minor injuries. On the training Saturday during the day Roland Ratzenberger, Karl’s fellow countryman, was killed in an accident and during the race itself Ayrton Senna. Also fatally. The entire Formula 1 Circus was still under shock eleven days later in Monaco and had to witness how Karl Wendlinger smashed into a barrier with his Sauber Formula 1 racing car. The one who always thought «Nothing will happen to me!» survived the accident but was placed under artificial coma due to extensive brain damage. In retrospect he reflects that his return to normal life was slow. Karl himself was the epitome of impatience. In the same way that being propelled through the garage window at his home could not stop him, he only wanted one thing now: To get back in his car as quickly as possible. «To the outside world it was nonsense», Wendlinger recaps today, «in June, only a few weeks after the accident, I was unable to recognize my parents and in September I was sitting back behind the wheel of the racing car.» Expert therapists, notably Professor Willi Dungl († 2002) did a great job; since then Karl has been dutifully performing his fitness programme, he did not used to be fond of sport. His team had kept their restless colleague’s place free in the racing car. «But my concentration was poor in 1995», Karl Wendlinger admits today. And his team colleague in the Sauber Mercedes Formula 1 team, Heinz Harald Frentzen, drove the better lap times. On top of that, the fully grown Wendlinger had a weight disadvantage compared to the smaller Frentzen. His Formula 1 career came to an end and Karl switched to touring cars. «In 1997 I was able to retrieve my full potential », says Karl Wendlinger, that is over 20 years ago now. Years, in which he drove in different motorsport championships on an international scale. Years, in which he also married his long-term girlfriend Sophie and had two children;, his son is 18 years old today, his daughter 21 years old. The younger Wendlinger generation does not have the racing gene, but their father supports them in everything they want to do. «As my parents supported me», it’s that simple. In the son’s case that’s football, Jonas Wendlinger plays for the 1st FC Nuremberg in the German under 19s team.


Karl Wendlinger is talkative here in Arosa, no comparison to the restrained junior he was almost 30 years ago. He tells about his parents’ business, that he has now taken over the garage in Kufstein and still lives there. He travels as brand ambassador for IWC, pilots a Mercedes Benz 300 SL Gullwing for the IWC Racing Team, however he is not a team member, not yet, he is practically on loan, and he has a contract with AMG Mercedes. This type of event includes taxi journeys, a select few get the chance to drive off with Karl Wendlinger in the unique Gullwing along 
7 kilometre long mountain racing circuits. The weather is poor, it is switching between snow and rain, although it is the end of the summer, «Karli» as his fans like to call him, doesn’t care. Motorsport is his vocation; he never wanted to do anything else. Do you not start to have doubts after such a horrific crash? «Everybody has their own path and it is set in stone», Karl Wendlinger attempts to explain and folds his 1.85 metres elegantly into the silvery Mercedes-Benz vintage car. «But you can shape a positive future.» Which he has, without a doubt, achieved.


Photos Copyrights: © Dörte Welti, Pauli Mathieu Bonnevie, Dörte Welti, Pauli

Specification for the SL Mercedes-Benz 300 SL «Gullwing»

Year of construction: 1955
Engine output: 215 PS
Four speed manual gearbox
The car (and its sister model) is elaborately prepared by HK-Engineering in Polling (D) for the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center.

It’s about Zeitz!

Fortunately the number of high-ranking managers and ceos that are actively involved in looking after our planet, the only one we have, and not simply talking about what has to be done is on the increase. However the versatility and consistency of Jochen Zeitz’ commitment is rather unique. Four years ago our author Dörte Welti interviewed him for the first time on his intentions, now she followed up on his progress.

Jochen Zeitz, four years ago we spoke about the fact that in the future companies should in general present an ecological assessment. Here is your statement again on how we should envisage it:

Jochen Zeitz: Up to the point when a product comes onto the market and is ultimately bought and used by the consumer, the manufacturer requires water, uses land, air and produces waste and pollutants such as carbon dioxide (Co2). These elements have to be set at a measurable ratio and transparently measured with a monetary value. Taken together these values give us an ecological assessment, with the same basis for everyone and which can be accounted for at the end of the year, similar to the financial figures. The Environmental Profit & Loss account (EP&L account) in Euros and cents, as it were.

In our conversation four years ago you expressed that it may be possible to introduce a standard that should be legally consolidated as far as possible. What has become of that wish?

There has been progress within the scope of what is possible, but also setbacks, standardization has to take place through political means and at the moment there is little movement in this direction. We also notice in our work that people are incredibly focused on themselves. In general we primarily think of what changes in behaviour or radical measures mean for us, before we think about the rest of the world.

That sounds somewhat disenchanted…

No, not at all, I look to the future and not the past, major cultural changes always take time. Four years ago I said that I hope our generation still experiences companies accepting the responsibility for their actions before the world runs out of air. It is important that we do not wait until something happens, we have to act quickly. Time does not stand still, we have to really live the term “live consciously”, and the environment is changing more and more rapidly. I am still convinced of what I do and how I am doing it. I think that is how something can be achieved, when you act with complete conviction and positive drive, always looking to the future and seeing what is possible.


Do you have to revise your wishes and plans from four years ago?

In part. We have not yet managed to define a uniform standard for the EP&L, which was my hope for 2020. But at least a number of companies submit their own environmental assessment today. There are organisations such as WBCDS* or SDG**, which view and integrate business today as an integral component for the solution of the major problems on planet earth. The climate treaty is also being implemented internationally and even Donald Trump will not be able to change that, as a number of states within the USA continue to consistently follow the right path.

But the ecological assessment is not only a subject for larger companies; it should also be viable for every SME and smaller businesses. Can you explain to us how that can work exactly?

By introducing measurable values both in quality and quantity for the elements, which we all use, regardless of whether we produce shoes, cars or sweets. It’s a good thing that we are thinking of ecological balance at all and that everybody initially acts as they think. In the course of time we can then find out what is important and what is not that important. What could also happen is that a company discovers that production does not work with a new supply chain under 
ecological conditions. If, for example, I am a manufacturer, who uses too much water at one point, then I have to take this as a starting point to change something. Smaller companies can take the initiative from the experience of larger companies, it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel each time. If it is not measured, in numbers and values, it cannot be managed or may be amended at the wrong point. Then ecological balance remains an abstract term. Nature is our asset, we have to measure it exactly the same as we do other values in the company. It is not enough to love nature, that does not solve the problems we have created.

Why did you stop being an active board member of Kering? It is exactly the kind of luxury brand that can act as a role model and have a pull effect on others and primarily on customers to herald a rethink?

One of the Kering board premises is to have 50:50 parity. If women join, men leave the ship so to speak, the time was up for me and two other colleagues. I hope that others follow in the footsteps of Kering as a forerunner.

And now, with a family – will your scope of activities change?

I will continue to consciously spend every day possible with my family and live as consciously as possible. Processes are accelerating at an incredible pace due to constantly changing technology. And there are more people in the world, who of course bring their own problems into the equation. The cultural shift has not advanced as fast as the technological, there’s still a lot of work to be done. In practical terms that means for me, Segera, the Zeitz MOCAA, The Long Run, the B Team and my diverse board activities in the company and other Not for Profits.
“Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something”, to quote a friend of mine (Johann Ernst Nilson).
I endorse that sentiment. I do as much as possible with the aim of creating a positive contribution in the long term. 

There are countless ways to support the institutions and organisations that concern Jochen Zeitz, or at least to follow them. Here is a short selection of the websites that are worth a look:

*WBCDS is a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.

**SDG stands for Sustainable Development Goals.▪

Vision: Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce are the four Cs and cornerstones of the Segera that opened in 2012. Jochen Zeitz is convinced that sustainability is guaranteed when all four Cs are in unison.


It is impossible to condense such a fully packed life into a short list. So here are simply some of the publically known, most important stations.
Jochen Zeitz was born in Germany. He studied International Marketing and Finance in Germany, France and the USA, completed his Bachelor in 1986 at the European Business School. At the age of 30 he took over the Puma company as chairman and CEO, the youngest CEO in Germany at the time, and led the sports article company into continued success for 18 years. Subsequently Jochen Zeitz held a position as board member of Kering (parent company of diverse luxury brands such as e.g. Gucci), managed the Sustainability Programme and developed the EP & L, the Environmental Profit & Loss Account. He founded the Zeitz Foundation and the Long Run-Initiative, in 2012 he opened the Segera Retreat in Kenya. In 2013 Jochen Zeitz founded The B Team together with Sir Richard Branson and a number of top-business people from all over the world. He is currently a Board Member of Cranemere and Harley Davidson, the latter has just extended their product range with electrically powered motorbikes. In 2013 the construction of Zeitz MOCAA began, the world’s largest and first museum for contemporary African art in Cape town in South Africa, the opening was at the end of 2017 (Patrons include Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, and the recently deceased Kofi Annan). The list of organisations, which he supports is extremely long, he has written books and won diverse awards. Jochen Zeitz travels a lot, lives with his wife Kate Garwood and kids in Kenya, England and the USA. ▪

Co-Author: Jochen Zeitz wrote this successful book in 2014 with B Team Advisor John Elkington. Publisher: Wiley.

Photos Copyrights: Wianelle Briers, Crookes and Jackson, MOCAA

Fashion from the heart

It is actually ten years ago: on June 1, 2008, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent died. His creations are sheer esteem for the woman, admiration that has become fabricated, and the expression of deep insights into secret fantasies. An Overture.

He is a bit of an artist, Yves Mathieu-Saint-Laurent is quoted as having said of himself, but when he gives it some more thought, not only a bit. These little anecdote* is perhaps the most honest statement we can nd about the designer born in Oran, Algeria. Yves grew up amongst women, with two sisters, mother and grandmother; the lanky youth discovered en passant the sen- sual world of fashion magazines, fragrances, rustling materials and opulent colours at an early age. his father was an insurance clerk, both parents’ descendants of ancestors from Alsace- Lorraine who had ed to Algeria. One can only imagine how the boy grew up in a mixture of conventions and the anticipation of a dazzling world. he was gifted in art, adored christian Dior, loved to draw and remarkably, he was allowed to move to Paris at the age of 17 to train as a fashion and stage illustrator in the chambre Syndicale, the heart of the French couture scene.

This «move», as one would refer to it in today’s business world, took on consequences at a breath-taking speed. In the first year, the student submitted fashion illustrations to the only international competition at the time that the industry had on offer, the fashion prize for International wool secretariat**. He received respectable recognition; in the following year, Yves Mathieu-Saint-Laurent won the first and third prize, in second place another genius, who continues to fascinate the fashion world until the present day: the German Karl Otto Lagerfeld. A dream comes true for the young French man: he can work for Christian Dior; the fashion star in the prime of his life takes the young man under his swing as his assistant. Yves is 21 years old when the Grand Monsieur dies at the age of only 52 and he is appointed successor and consequently creative Director of the fashion house.

The strange foreigner from Oran gets started. With caution, he becomes a master of subtle sensations. Initially he follows the famous Dior line, proving his respect and loyalty to his mentor, by dutifully designing the new collections in his style. however, he quickly breaks new ground with his own ideas; the first designs reated are far from the Dior models to date and Dior refrains from further collaboration. No big deal for the handsome man, who has formed a partnership with Pierre Bergé, with whom he initially experiences an intimate private relationship and then for the rest of his life the perfect symbiosis between intellectual and professional life. In 1961, the duo founded Yves Saint Laurent, the fashion label, which still exists today. YSL could just as easily have become MSL, in early designs Yves Mathieu-Saint-Laurent liked to explicitly emphasise the initial letters of his noble surname. Yves Saint Laurent played with gender roles; his first dinner jacket for women in 1966 was legendary.

At the same time, he elevated women to the status of goddess creations in his artistic promenade and photo stagings, worked simultaneously on theatre productions and as such created the perfect mix between stage, drama, dream and real fashion. YSL was revolutionary, provocative, without being obscene, even scantily clad women always remained inconceivably elegant. The most stunning stars wore the label, women, who were so unapproachable and still vulnerable resembled the maestro himself. Bianca Jagger, the cool Catherine Deneuve, Marisa Berenson become his muses, in more recent times it was icons such as Carla Bruni and Kate Moss, who stood for rebellious elegance. Unforgettable the Rive Gauche line, which astounded the established scene from the middle of the 60s, because the revolutionary had the courage to launch ready to wear fashion next to Haute Couture. he wanted to give women selfconfidence and to support them, not only adorn them, as Saint-Laurent said himself. Mission accomplished.

Yves Saint Laurent was, by the way, one of the leading couturiers, who to a large extent trusted exquisite Swiss fabric for his collections. The Zurich silk company Abraham, and in particular the head designer Gustav Zumsteg, had a very close bond with Yves Saint-Laurent as both a friend and designer. Zumsteg, who also designed for Dior, met the newcomer on the occasion of Christian Dior’s funeral. The cooperation between Zumsteg and Saint Laurent became intense, the fabric designer and couturier inspired and admired each other. Zumsteg and Saint-Laurent shared their love of art; the fashion designer liked to stage his models in a splendid art ambiance and included references to famous artists in his fashion. The fabrics were designed by the enthusiastic art collector Zumsteg, who was also inspired by milestones in art.***

A cloud of tragedy hung over the life of the couturier Saint-Laurent, despite all the success and the love expressed by beautiful people for him and his works, he somehow appeared lost. In 2002 he staged his departure from the catwalk with a gigantic promenade in the centre Pompidou in Paris, 2000 guests paid their respects to the obviously exhausted man; the A-List of the top models presented the milestones of the trends he had created: Dinner jacket, jumpsuit, safari-look, Russian style, china look, the transparent blouse and lots more.

In the same year the Foundation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent was founded, with the aim of preserving and promoting the life’s work of the master. Even today, ten years after his death, 60 years after his first collection in 1958, you change when you put on a YSL suit, dress or even just a pencil skirt. Somehow you stretch to your
full height, become more proud, get a sublime feeling. You can be certain that you are well dressed, an awareness that is really only inherent in very few creations these days. And maybe there is a very simple explanation, a quote from Monsieur Laurent himself: «The most beautiful pieces of clothing for a woman are the arms of the man she loves. For those, who do not have this pleasure, I am there.»

Love in the stitches. Those who own fashion designed by the exceptional talent from his active period can count themselves lucky; sometimes you can come across a well-kept piece in a luxury vintage shop. A piece of self confidence to wear. Try it out.

P.S.: A visit to the Yves Saint Laurent museums in Paris and Marrakech is a must. Pierre Bergé, who survived his great love by 9 1⁄2 years, managed to perfectly stage the life’s work of Yves Mathieu-Saint-Laurent. Unfair that he did not get to experience the opening in Morocco himself, he died three weeks before. The tragedy never ceased.

*Source: All about Yves from Catherine Örmen, a beautiful, ela- borately designed book, edited by the foundation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent. Publisher

** The International wool secretariat IWS was founded in 1937 and is based in London, to give the worldwide-distributed wool producers the chance to market and certify their products together. Today the association is called The Woolmark Company, belongs to the Australian Wool Innovation, supports local offices throughout the world and still tenders a coveted fashion and innovation prize, the International Woolmark Prize.

*** outstanding examples: The YSL foulards. The Swiss Tex- tile Collection STC is currently dedicating an exhibition in their Schaulager in Murg to the designs by an employee from the Abraham company, who worked for Gustav Zumsteg and designed over 1000 foulards. 250 wonderful exhibits, framed by the fashion of the master from the archived Haute Couture collection of the STC. Runs until the end of March 2018.